The latest guest on New England Soccer Journal’s “The Goal” podcast is a household name amongst soccer fans in New England, and across the professional and international soccer ranks.
New England Revolution Technical Director Curt Onalfo joined the podcast with host Matt Langone for a compelling discussion that touched on multiple aspects of his extensive soccer experiences. That includes his New England upbringing after being born in Brazil, the adversity he faced in his career, and how he spearheaded the launch of Revolution II, which elevated the club’s player development process by providing a fully defined pathway from the Revolution Academy to the professional ranks.
Onalfo was named Revolution Technical Director in June 2019. Along with playing a major role in the player development system for the Revs, he brings a wealth of MLS coaching experience to the club, including stints as head coach of the Kansas City Wizards, D.C. United and LA Galaxy. He was an MLS Cup winner as both a player and a coach, capturing the title as a member of D.C. United in 1999, and later as an assistant coach for LA Galaxy in 2011, 2012 and 2014. He played for Revolution head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena at the University of Virginia and served as an assistant coach under Arena with the U.S. Men’s National Team and LA Galaxy.
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Here are some highlights from our discussion with Onalfo in the latest episode of “The Goal”:
On his role as technical director:
Onalfo: “Basically, the way I look at my function in my job is to help everybody be successful in the organization.”
On his longtime relationship with Arena:
Onalfo: “I played for Bruce when I was 17-years-old, and now I’m 52, so, I’ve known him for a long time. We’ve worked together for a long period of time. Bruce and I have a unique way of working. We don’t have to over-communicate. He doesn’t like to be bothered with things unless they’re extremely important.”
On the value of the Revs’ player pathway:
Onalfo: “We want to continually find ways to to make it better, enhance it so that we always have a pipeline of players that can come through our system. So, then if you’re now adding designated players at a good rate and you’re doing it intelligently, it just helps with the entire process. We invest money in both our academy and our second team.”
On his soccer upbringing in Ridgefield Conn.:
Onalfo: “When we came back to the U.S., my dad wanted to get both my brother and I involved with soccer, and we came to Ridgefield, Conn., they didn’t have a program, and my dad founded it with two other gentlemen and built the soccer club. And, actually, there’s a field named after our family. Everybody thinks it’s named after me and my brother, who were high-level soccer players — it was actually after my dad founded the soccer club.”
On recovering from Hodgkin’s disease:
Onalfo: “My first reaction to it was bleak. I was actually scared. I was 24. I was diagnosed and I had lived a great life. I played in the Olympics, I traveled the world and I was like, ‘Wow, is this it?’ And then I kind of got angry at myself for thinking that way, and it was all about just getting the game face on.”
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